Should you use a neck strap while playing the clarinet? You may have seen other clarinetists using a neck strap and thought it was weird. Or that it was unnecessary. Or they are just a “saxophone wannabe”–that may be taking it too far…anyway….
Answer these two simple questions to see if you might benefit from using a clarinet neck strap.
1. Do you usually prop your clarinet on your knees while practicing in a chair?
I am guilty. I do it because it is more comfortable for my hand and wrist–it takes the pressure off. Is it wrong? Not necessarily. Does it mean you need a neck strap? Maybe.
Honestly, I do it instead of using my neck strap, since I don’t particularly like the clarinet neck strap. Yep. I own one and I use it. No saxophone envy here.
2. Do you experience pain, fatigue, or difficulty with right-hand technique when playing your clarinet?
If you experience any of these problems, a neck strap might be the answer. It certainly can’t hurt to try one, and they are not expensive. The neck strap will take a large part of the weight off your right hand and relieve some of the pressure that is on your thumb, wrist, and arm. For me, it is essential and I will not practice in a standing position without it. Several of my colleagues and private students over the years have also found relief from use of a clarinet neck strap.
Clarinet Neck Strap Options
Yes. Options. Would you expect less in today’s world? Depending on what kind of support you want might determine the neck strap you decide on.
Claricord–This is a fully elastic clarinet neck strap and it is adjustable by velcro. It has a leather tab that fits over the thumb rest. This one is very flexible. Many clarinetists like it and it is popular, but it is too flexible for my use.
Neotech and DEG make a neck strap that is more like a light-duty saxophone neck strap, including a hook and a removable leather tab. I prefer the Neotech strap (pictured), as it provides a nice cushion on the neck with some flexibility, a coated hook and a removable leather tab. It also has a quick and easy sliding adjuster that is very stable.
The DEG clarinet neck strap is very similar, but has even less flexibility and the thumb rest tab is not as thick.
Because of the type of thumb rest on my clarinet, I use the hook, but do not remove the leather tab (I still use the tab on my A clarinet). Your clarinet may have a neck strap loop. Many of the newer (adjustable) thumb rests have the neck strap loop. You can always have a loop attached to your clarinet by a professional repair person if you desire.
There are other clarinet neck straps available besides the three I have mentioned, but I have not tried them.
If you decide that a neck strap is something you would benefit from, don’t be afraid to buy one. After all, you know you’ve always envied all the saxophonists for this sleek fashion accessory.
As always, practice with patience and perseverance.